Ellison Dear Colleague letter September 2017

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Subject: e-DearColleague: Oppose DeSantis Amendment #115 to SFOPS

 

 

Oppose DeSantis Amendment #115 to SFOPS

Sending Office: Honorable Keith Ellison  

   

Oppose DeSantis Amendment #115 to SFOPS

Organizations opposing DeSantis Amendment #115 include: InterAction, Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services, CARE, International Center for Nonprofit Law, J Street, American Jewish World Service, Oxfam, Solidarity Center, Norwegian Refugee Council USA, HIAS, Charity & Security Network, Mercy Corps, ONE Campaign, Church World Service, Refugees International, Relief International, American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Partnership for Faith & Development, American Hindu World Service, Faiths for Safe Water, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Defending Rights & Dissent, Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Society of North America, American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa, Life for Relief and Development, Project C.U.R.E., The Peace Appeal Foundation, Yemen Peace Project, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

 

Dear Colleague:

I write to urge you to vote “NO” on Amendment #115 offered by Representative DeSantis on H.R. 3354 - Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Appropriations Act, 2018.

This Amendment prohibits funds from being awarded to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance to communities around the world, including here in the United States.

In fact, IRW’s U.S. affiliate, Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), is helping victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and the surrounding areas right now.

This amendment is based on claims that are simply not true. IRW has never been affiliated with Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. IRW has never been “a front for terrorist activities.” IRW has been audited over 500 times. None of the allegations have been demonstrated.

This amendment singles out IRW for its religious affiliation.  This is another attempt to criminalize and demonize organizations that are affiliated with the Muslim community.

When IRW was accused of providing support to terrorists, it shut down its operations in the West Bank and commissioned an independent audit.

In reviewing the audit, the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) stated, "We are satisfied that Islamic Relief has robust systems in place to ensure aid money is properly accounted for and spent appropriately. The DEC is not aware of any evidence that Islamic Relief has used aid funds inappropriately in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

IRW has no restrictions or designations by the US government. In fact, IRUSA is a member of the United States Governments’ Combined Federal Campaign. In order to qualify, IRUSA had to satisfy a broad array of requirements and regulations.

IRW enjoys UN consultative status, participates in the UK Disasters Emergency Committee, and partners with governments around the world.  Islamic Relief Worldwide also works with other faith-based and secular organizations, such as Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, and the Red Cross.

Beyond the United States, funders include the European Community Humanitarian Office, the Canadian government, the Swedish government, the Swiss government, the British government, the World Food Programme, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNICEF and UN Women.

It’s inconceivable that IRW could receive such broad support if it funded or had links to terrorism.

Because the audits and courts could not find IRW guilty of wrongdoing, Rep. DeSantis wants us to find IRW guilty via legislative means, and punish them for it. This is a bill of attainder and is unconstitutional.

Our global community is facing refugee crises, a climate crisis, and public health crises. We should not be targeting organizations doing their best to help.

Sincerely,

 

Keith Ellison

Member of Congress